The Tricontinental Conference & Latin American Liberationist Christianity

I am presenting a working paper at the Toronto Christian Left Conference (July 23-24), whose theme is Rethinking the Christian Left from the Belly of Empire: Charting New Paths Beyond Colonization. As an offering to this discussion, I am centering the Tricontinental Conference of 1966 and Latin American liberationist Christianity as a way to think … Continue reading The Tricontinental Conference & Latin American Liberationist Christianity

Two World Views of the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World (Verso, 2018) compiles a series of lectures given by Walter Rodney, the black Guyanese radical, at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. (Jesse Benjamin and Robin D.G. Kelley have done amazing work in editing and presenting these lectures as a book.) Writing from the … Continue reading Two World Views of the Russian Revolution

Red Star Over the Third World

Vijay Prashad, Red Star Over the Third World (Pluto Press, 2019). Vijay Prashad's Red Star Over the Third World is an explosive little book that admirably conveys the profound impact of the October Revolution and its continued influence for communist movements in the Third World – with a focus here on Asia, the Middle East, … Continue reading Red Star Over the Third World

Los Angeles Intellectuals

As a guide to understanding the cultural mythology and socio-geographical history of the singular American city that represents both "the utopia and dystopia for advanced capitalism," there is none more incisive than Mike Davis' City of Quartz, a tour de force which offers perhaps the definitive account of the land "south of the Tehachapis" even … Continue reading Los Angeles Intellectuals

Brecht and L.A. as Hell

In the 1930s and 1940s, Los Angeles became a haven for exiled European intellectuals on the run from or protesting fascism. Mike Davis traces their singular mark on the development of L.A.'s cultural self-mythology in his social history of Southern California, City of Quartz; here, the existential melancholia of playwright Bertolt Brecht captures the exiles' typical dismay at … Continue reading Brecht and L.A. as Hell

The Origin of Capitalism

A précis of Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View (Verso, 2017). There is a story told about capitalism—mostly by its proponents: classical liberals, American conservatives, libertarians, and the like; but also sometimes inadvertently by its Marxist critics—that sees this system as synonymous with human nature in all times and all places, as the innate … Continue reading The Origin of Capitalism

2016: Year in Reading

I am not relevant enough to give recommendations for books published in 2016; for that, you can check out editor John Wilson’s excellent list here. I can, however, humbly offer a handful of exceptional books that I read this year. I’m pleased that it is a diverse list—new(ish) books and books I reread; classics, novels, intellectual … Continue reading 2016: Year in Reading